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Doctors warn hydration is vital as temperatures climb into triple digits in western Washington

As the historic heat wave continues in western Washington, doctors are warning the dangers of heat-related injuries are more real than ever.

TACOMA, Wash. — Medical experts are warning residents in Pierce County that staying hydrated is more than just drinking water.

After three days of record breaking high-temperatures, doctors warn the threat of heat-related injuries can’t be overstated.

“It’s not the fact that you got through one day of 100+ degree weather, it’s the fact that this can be cumulative over time that you’re not keeping up with your fluids,” said Dr. Michael Anderson, chief medical officer for St. Joseph’s Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.

That cumulative effect can have some drastic effects on someone’s body, especially if they’re not used to these conditions.

“When these heat waves come to us in the Puget Sound area, we’re not used to this weather, so when it hits, boom, our bodies start to go through these physiological changes,” Anderson explained.

Those changes come in the form of heat injuries. Early signs include:

  • A lack of sweating, which is usually a sign of dehydration.
  • A body temperature of over 101 degrees F
  • Other symptoms such as headache, fatigue, confusion and light-headedness can also occur.

Anderson goes on to explain that hydration is more than just drinking water.

“If you don’t balance your water intake with your consumption of electrolytes, that’s in salts, potassium, calcium, those kinds of things, you can get in just as much trouble if you overdose on the water,” said Anderson. “Over the weekend, I saw some good Samaritans providing water to the homeless, which is great if you’re able to have some of those resources, but you have to remember, it’s a loss of water, but it’s also a loss of electrolytes.”

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